I suppose I could do what other people seem to be doing and donate to a charity instead of sending cards, but I donate to charities all year long. Charity is for life, not just for Christmas, surely? I'm already saving a few trees. Isn't that enough? Why do I need to offset my sadness? Can't I just be selfish this year? Sometimes sadness is appropriate. We can't all make lemonade every time we get lemons. It's exhausting squeezing every drop of positivity from a negative situation when you're already exhausted.
Don't worry, it goes both ways. I don't want any Christmas cards either. I mean, I don't mind if you have to follow the custom, if writing cards gives you some joy, if it just wouldn't be Christmas for you if you didn't send cards. But please don't send one on my account. Please don't think that sending me a snowy scene with the words: 'Happy Christmas' and 'Happy New Year' is going to improve my lot during this festive period. Putting it bluntly, it's not.
I appreciate you thinking about me but love is for all of the year, not just for Christmas too. The friends who care about me have been here for me during what has been the worst year of my life. Some of them have sent me love on a daily or weekly basis. They have checked in on how I am regularly. Some of them have driven across the country to see me. A lot of good friends have read my blog, religiously or sporadically. They know how I am. They have sat me with while I've cried week after week after week. They know that I will not be happy just because it's Christmas. The word happy is just jarring. It's not appropriate for someone who is grieving.
This Christmas won't be a happy one. I'm not being negative. It's just the way it is. Sure, it will have some happy moments. I have two gorgeous children who are excited and there will be joy in seeing them open their presents and all that malarkey. And, yes, I'm grateful that I have them and that I'm not homeless and that I don't live in Syria. I have a lot of things to be grateful for. I can make lemonade when I need to. But I will mostly be sad and mostly thinking about the people who are missing. That's just the way it is. My life is half-empty, not half-full.
By all means think of me. And if you want to send me a card, send me a card acknowledging that you know this year will be hard. Wish me some peace. Send me some strength. Keep sending me love. Make plans to hang out with me, knowing that there will probably be tears if you do. But don't wish me a Happy Christmas. Christmas will be tough. As for 2017, with any luck it can't be as bad as 2016 but I hear bereaved people and counsellors routinely saying that the second year following the loss of a partner is worse than the first so I'm not counting my chickens and the last time I said things couldn't get worse, you died. I'm not risking saying it again. Probably the second year following the death of a partner is worse, at least in part because friends forget that things don't get better just because the year on the calendar has changed. When the person you love is missing, they just keep being missing. So please, friends, forgive me for the lack of cards and for the Grinchlike behaviour and keep sending the love.
You didn't send me a card last year. You sent me a New Year's card instead. It was a beautiful scene of bluebells and trees. You acknowledged that life had been tough for me for years and that things could only get better. You were a big part of my future plans for life improvement.
'May all your dreams come true in 2016,' you wrote.
So much for that.